Losing, not homers, frustrates Kershaw
CHICAGO -- Coming in off one of the most frustrating starts of his career, Clayton Kershaw had another one on Monday, as the Dodgers opened a 10-game trip with a 4-2 loss to the Cubs.
"It's always frustrating to lose," said Kershaw, 21-3 as last year's National League MVP Award and Cy Yound Award winner but 5-5 this season. "It's a couple pitches here and there. I wish they were doubles instead of home runs. Maybe this was a little better than last time, but it's still a loss."
Kershaw allowed a pair of home runs -- a two-run shot to Kris Bryant in the third inning and a leadoff homer in the seventh inning to Matt Szczur. He's now allowed 11 home runs, compared with nine for all of 2014.
"I don't really care if I give up home runs or not," Kershaw said. "As long as they're solo shots, it doesn't matter. Right now, it feels like that's how I give up runs. If you make a bad pitch, you make a bad pitch. Hopefully they stay in the ballpark."
Manager Don Mattingly again offered his best explanation for the difference between Kershaw from last year to this.
"Guys are ready to play against Clayton Kershaw," Mattingly said. "He gets everybody's best effort. It's not a middle-of-the-season-type of game. It's like a playoff game."
The Dodgers runs came on homers from rookies Kiké Hernandez (No. 3, in the third inning) and Joc Pederson (No. 19, in the ninth).
The home run off Kershaw by Bryant -- who out-homered NL Rookie of the Year Award rival Pederson in this game, 2-1 -- came one pitch after Kershaw thought he had a strikeout of Bryant. But plate umpire Jordan Baker saw it a touch outside.
"I wanted that, but he was pretty consistent the whole night," said Kershaw. "Give him credit, he didn't budge."
Kershaw was annoyed at the 10-minute delay in the bottom of the sixth inning triggered by a surge in the light bank that left some scattered bulbs temporarily off before gradually coming back on.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon, after spending most of the break complaining to crew chief Jerry Meals, played the game under protest because the game resumed before some of the lights were refreshed.
"I just wanted to say, 'Get off the field and keep the game going,'" said Kershaw. "But standing around for 10 minutes, my legs were getting heavy. I wanted an answer. I don't know if Joe was trying to do it on purpose or what? It didn't affect me, but it was a good idea."
Offensively, the Dodgers were coming off a 10-run eruption Sunday that avoided a sweep by the Giants and potentially signaled the end of a weeks-long scoring shortage. But in this game, they couldn't take advantage of the Cubs being without starting pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada after with a cramped deltoid muscle in the third.
The Dodgers had only three hits off five Chicago relievers over seven innings. The only time the Dodgers had a runner in scoring position was in the third inning, after two-out walks to Yasiel Puig and Pederson.
But on an 0-2 pitch to hot-hitting Justin Turner, Puig drifted too far off second base, and former Dodgers catcher David Ross pump-faked then threw to second to nail Puig and end the inning.
Puig also tore open a quarter-size callous on his left hand, but played the entire game.